research paper

Submitted By mbostick7
Words: 2500
Pages: 10

Childhood Obesity Childhood obesity has become a major health problem in the United States because of the staggering numbers in the past few decades. Not only has obesity tripled over the past thirty years, it continues to affect children of all ages. There are several other risk factors for childhood obesity but most importantly poor eating habits and the lack of physical activity are the leading causes due to lifestyle and environmental changes. The health risks and social effects of obesity can negatively affect the child’s quality of life and shorten their lifespan but with the help of parents, school districts, and the government obesity can be controlled and prevented. Childhood obesity is a problem that affects Americans at a startling, epidemic rate that spreads across all age groups, races, genders, and families. There are alarming numbers reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a 2014 article, the CDC reports that “approximately 17% or 12.5 million children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014, para. 1). CDC defines obesity in children with a body mass index (BMI) at or above 95th percentile of the same age and sex, which usually begins in children between the ages of 5 and 6 (CDC, 2014). Children with a parent who is obese have a 50 percent chance of becoming obese themselves, and if both parents are obese than a child has an 80 percent chance of becoming obese; studies have shown that obese children are more likely to become obese adults and obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe than as a child (American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2011). Obesity is a vicious cycle that affects both children and adults if not taken care of early on. Obesity in children should be taken seriously because it can create several health and social consequences that may become chronic in adulthood if not treated. Some Americans believe obesity in children is a cosmetic problem, which is far from the truth and research has proven that obesity can cause many immediate health problems in children, if not treated the health effects can be long-term through adulthood (Burniat, 2002). Some of the health problems of obesity in children are: diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, orthopedic disorders, respiratory disease, and even some cancers (CDC, 2014). Childhood obesity affects children physically, mentally and emotionally. Children with obesity are at higher risk to develop psychological problems, per the American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry, (2011) obese children tend to have much lower self-esteem that can lead to anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and a poor body self image. Children that are obese are also at a greater risk to be teased and bullied by other children, which creates mental and emotional damage. Studies have shown that medical spending is much higher for obese individuals than for individuals who are not obese, and as nutritional science expert Wendy Wolfe states, “shockingly, the cost of treating obesity-related diseases in the United States now exceeds the cost of tobacco and alcohol related diseases combined” (Wolfe, 2003, p. 23). Obesity comes at a high price that can be a financial burden for years on a family. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are not the only reason for childhood obesity but are the two main reasons that can play a major role in the alarming numbers. Wendy Wolfe testifies on the growing numbers of children with obesity and states, “The childhood obesity epidemic is an indicator of underlying poor nutrition habits and low physical activity” (Wolfe, 2003, p.23). Since obesity is caused mostly by consuming more calories than the ones that are burned, making good nutritional choices and being involved in daily physical activity is the key. In today’s society, children are not consuming enough whole grains,